Dog Point Vineyards supreme winner at Cawthron Marlborough Environment Awards

Dog Point Vineyards co-owner Margaret Sutherland and viticulturist Nigel Sowman receive the supreme award at the ...
JACQUI LESLIE PHOTOGRAPHY

Dog Point Vineyards co-owner Margaret Sutherland and viticulturist Nigel Sowman receive the supreme award at the Cawthron Marlborough Environment Awards.

One of the largest organic vineyards in the country has scooped the top prize at the Cawthron Marlborough Environment Awards.

Dog Point Vineyards received the supreme award after winning the landscape and habitat enhancement category at the ceremony at the Marlborough Convention Centre on Friday night.

Co-owner Margaret Sutherland said she was "absolutely surprised" to win their category, let alone the overall prize.

Staff help to maintain native plantings along Mill Stream.
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Staff help to maintain native plantings along Mill Stream.

"Everyone that entered, their projects were of a very high calibre. It was a thrill, actually, we felt really honoured to be rewarded for something we really love to do."

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Judges of the biennial awards described the vineyard's work as "truly inspiring", in an area where trees and shelter belts were being bulldozed to plant vineyards on the Wairau Plain.

Margaret Sutherland says she loves that her grandchildren can wander through the trees.
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Margaret Sutherland says she loves that her grandchildren can wander through the trees.

About 100-hectares of the property in Fairhall, west of Blenheim, was made up of vines certified by organic regulatory body BioGro.

"We just think it's the way of the future," Sutherland said.

"We love our land, and we love to live in a clean environment which is conducive to good health. We don't advertise that we're organic, it's not a marketing strategy, though it could be. We're doing it because we believe in it."

Dog Point Vineyard workers harvest chardonnay.
SCOTT HAMMOND/FAIRFAX NZ

Dog Point Vineyard workers harvest chardonnay.

Sutherland was grateful to viticulturist Nigel Sowman for leading the vineyard through their conversion into organics, which was a complex process, she said.

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The rest of the property was devoted to native bush, wetlands, open spaces, orchards, vegetable gardens and pasture.

Sutherland credited staff for planting and maintaining the property, bought by Margaret and Ivan Sutherland in 1991.

Dog Point Vineyard viticulturist Nigel Sowman, left, and Anna Dunne, Margaret and Ivan Sutherland's daughter.
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Dog Point Vineyard viticulturist Nigel Sowman, left, and Anna Dunne, Margaret and Ivan Sutherland's daughter.

"Over the years we've had some really neat staff who have embraced our ethos. They still get out there in the quieter months between harvest and pruning, so we do quite a bit of planting at that time of year," Sutherland said.

Native plantings lured native birds, which did not eat the grapes, and a gully of Tasmanian blackwood trees were watered with wastewater from the winery.

"It's a busy place. There's lots going on, and of course making wine is what we do. But it's creating something for the future," Sutherland said.

"We're trying to leave the property better than we found it."

The judges said Dog Point Vineyards were chosen as the supreme winner for demonstrating conservation with a commercial edge.

Sutherland said she hoped other vineyards would consider investing in organic production and native regeneration.

"We really would like other vineyards to make time for planting natives. They too will find it really rewarding when the tuis and bellbirds flock to it."

THE WINNERS
Marine - Sanford
Farming - Muller Station
Landscape and Habitat Enhancement - Dog Point Vineyards
Business innovation - Southern Water Engineering
Wine Industry Innovation - Tohu Wines
Community Innovation - Nelmac Garden Marlborough
Supreme award winner - Dog Point Vineyards

 - The Marlborough Express

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